Building Material

Facing Stones

Many modern precast concrete buildings in the city centre are faced with a thin veneer of ornamental stone. A great deal of this material is imported but there has been a recent resurgence in the use of Irish stone. Samples pictured below were presented by Stone Developments, Enniskerry, and Feely and Sons, Boyle.

Granite facing stone. From left to right: Clooney, Wicklow, Tory and Donegal Rosses

Ballyknockan Granite

This very popular facing stone is quarried in Co. Wicklow. It is used on the Trinity Museum Building, and in the Central Bank on Dame Street. These examples show two available finishes – matt, or honed (right) and polished (left).



Crude slate, Valentia, Co. Kerry

In the 19th century over 1000 people were employed in the slate industry in Killaloe, West Cork, Carrick-on-Shannon and Valentia. However, most of the slate used in Ireland has been imported. Georgian roofs, for example, are often made with high quality slate from Wales, such as this variety below – Bangor Blue, from Llanberis, North Wales. In contrast, this crude roofing slate from Valentia, Co. Kerry (right) is difficult to work into large pieces.

Bangor Blue Slate, Wales


Yellow brick clay
Yellow brick clay

Fired bricks are made using a variety ingredients, most often including clay, sand and lime (derived from calcium carbonate, or limestone). The colour of brick is often due to the type of clay used in the mixture. Bricks have been used in Ireland since the 16th century, but became particularly fashionable in 18th century – for example, in the great houses of Fitzwilliam, Merrion and Mountjoy Squares. Historically, most of the brick used in Ireland was imported, but there were some local sources, including Athy, Co. Kildare (red) and Dolphin’s Barn, Co. Dublin (yellow).



Gypsum is used in a range of industries, including the production of plasterboard. It has been mined in Kingscourt, Cavan since 1936. The gypsum there was deposited in shallow sea that covered north-east Ireland 200-280 million years ago.


Some of the most distinctive paving slabs used in Ireland come from Co. Clare. This example below is from the Burren and shows the marks of vertical burrows.

Micaceous paving stone from the Burren, Co. Clare (coin for scale)

Museum Building

The Trinity Museum Building, original home of the Geological Museum, is known for the variety of different geological materials used, in particular the range of Irish coloured stone. The interdisciplinary project ‘Making Victorian Dublin‘ explored the relationship of architecture, craftsmanship and geology in the delivery of the Museum Building.

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